ANAHEIM, CALIF.-Rexam Medical Packaging may put manufacturing plants in some emerging markets in Latin America or Asia, according to a top official. Rexam Medical is considering the expansion for two reasons: to follow global medical original equipment manufacturers and supply their flexible packaging needs; and to serve growing indigenous OEMs in those markets, said V. George Maliekel, vice president for marketing and business planning, and general manager for Asian and Latin American operations.
``We are thinking about capacity - in fact we're going through that exercise right now. And it could well be that we will add extrusion capacity in one of those areas,'' Maliekel said in a Feb. 6 interview just prior to the Medical Design & Manufacturing West show in Anaheim.
Within Latin America, Rexam Medical is considering Brazil, where it has a 1-year-old joint venture in SÃo Paulo with ITAP SA, as well as Argentina, Chile and Mexico.
In Asia the company is looking at Malaysia, China and India, Maliekel said.
``Those markets are just exploding,'' he said of Asia.
Rexam Medical, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., already has plants in Singapore and Sydney, Australia, plus sales and distribution offices in China and India.
``We serve the medical device manufacturing industry,'' including many players that already are moving into emerging markets, Maliekel said.
``What we're finding now is that there are also a lot of local companies that are very active in these markets. The local companies are growing very fast, and we can serve them as well,'' he said.
Rexam Medical is a subsidiary of London-based Rexam plc, a $3.5 billion firm formerly known as Bowater plc.
Although the parent company is recognized primarily for its paper operations, Rexam Medical has significant plastics manufacturing, including plants in Ashland, Mass.; Lakeville, Minn.; Madison, Wis.; Mount Holly, N.J.; and Mundelein, Ill. The Mundelein and Lakeville plants house blown film extrusion lines, while the others have a variety of converting, coating and laminating equipment.
At the medical show, Rexam Medical introduced what it considered a breakthrough product: a coextruded film sold under the Integra Peel FM trade name that can be used as an alternative to heat-seal coated films and other radiation-sterilized, peelable packaging materials.
The firm claims the product is 25-30 percent cheaper than alternative packaging, since the new film is coextruded, instead of extruded and then coated or laminated in a second step.
Rexam developed the product at a research and development facility in Bristol, England, and is manufacturing it in Mundelein, said David Rudd, R&D director at Rexam Medical's technical center in Madison.
The three-layer coextrusion features high density polyethylene and a proprietary, peelable polymer blend, said Michael Wollberg, director of sales and marketing.